Apple has announced a new set of features for iPhone called “Lockdown Mode.”
On Wednesday, the tech giant wrote in a blog post that Lockdown Mode will arrive on iOS 16, iPadOS 16 , and macOS Ventura devices in Autumn this year. It will offer a number of security features.
Apple called the mode “extreme, optional level of security for the very few users who, because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats.”
The company directly mentioned the NSO Group and “other private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.”
Turning on Lockdown Mode will harden defences and strictly limit certain functionalities, thus reducing the attack surface that potentially could be exploited by spyware.
Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, Ivan Krstić, explained: “Lockdown Mode is a ground-breaking capability that reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting users from even the rarest, most sophisticated attacks.”
Lockdown Mode will block most message attachment types and disable link previews.
Finally, wired communications with an accessory or a computer are blocked when the iPhone is locked, the device cannot enrol in mobile device management (MDM), and configuration profiles cannot be installed.
Apple said that it intends to strength Lockdown Mode and add new protections to it over time.
Krstić said, “while the vast majority of users will never be the victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who are.”
“That includes continuing to design defences specifically for these users, as well as supporting researchers and organizations around the world doing critically important work in exposing mercenary companies that create these digital attacks.”
The firm has also established a new category within the Apple Security Bounty program to reward researchers who find Lockdown Mode bypasses and help improve its protection.
Bounties are doubled for all qualifying findings in Lockdown Mode, with a maximum of $2million.